By: Elle Grant
Wednesday, November 11th marks the annual commemoration of veterans in the United States, aptly named Veterans Day. This year, in the unprecedented context of coronavirus, as well as intense political and social strife, the day takes on an additionally sacred context as a reminder of those who have served our country.
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary marking the end of World War I. Congress then passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, with the day becoming a national holiday beginning in 1938. Similar to Memorial Day, which is an annual federal holiday in May, it celebrates veterans of the United States. However, the difference between them is that Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living and dead. Yet a particular focus is on those veterans still with us, who served their country with honor and distinction whether during war or peacetime.
Several countries have similar days commemorating their veterans that find their root in remembering World War I and World War II on or near November 11th. Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday. World War I, as arguably the most brutal conflict in human history on the soldiers, is a devastating reminder of why countries celebrate those who serve.
2020 is a particularly remarkable year as it marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, and the 30th anniversary of both the end of the Panama Invasion and the beginning of Desert Shield.
Veterans Day has been distinctly impacted by the coronavirus, still sweeping the nation especially in the Midwest. As such, celebrations and efforts of remembrance are being affected in large ways. Arlington National Cemetery, used to hosting hundreds of thousands of veterans, their families, and the families of veterans who have passed, has altered its yearly ceremony in context of the current pandemic. For the first time, it will be livestreamed, with certain areas closed off, and embracing social distancing and masked mandates. Furthermore, the beloved observance at Memorial Amphitheater has been closed off to the general public, yet the overall cemetery will remain open.
Yet it is no time to despair or to pause the nation’s respects. There are 18.2 milling living veterans who have served during wartime alive in the United States today, all deserving admiration.
Many businesses and restaurants salute veterans during this day with special deals for those who have served and their families. 360 Magazine thanks all veterans for their service.